An easily digestible lesson in teamwork with animal appeal.

THE BAD DAY

A variety of forest critters experience misfortune.

A squirrel is at a loss: “Oh no—I climbed up high / to get this yummy nut. / And now I’m here, though it appears / I am completely stuck!” A snake has twisted itself into a knot; a tortoise has flipped onto its shell; a woodpecker’s beak is stuck in a tree trunk; a mouse is trapped in a fox’s stomach; and the fox has a bellyache. The squirrel realizes that if they all help one another, they can free the mouse from the fox’s belly. The illustrations show the various animals grappling with their predicaments then solving them by working together. “If I just turn myself around / and use this tail I’ve got, / the bird can fly down from the tree… / and loosen up Snake’s knot,” says the squirrel, for example. Written in rhyming verse, the book conveys an important message in an engaging way: If we all work together and help one another, we can accomplish things we could not do alone. The ink, pencil, and paint illustrations incorporate lots of textures, color variations, and small details (like insect friends on multiple pages) that will hold young readers’ interest, inviting them to return to the story again and again. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An easily digestible lesson in teamwork with animal appeal. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2378-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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